SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s overall wealth grew at a slightly slower pace in 2020 on-year, central bank data showed Thursday, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that took a heavy toll on the nation’s economy.

The country’s national assets came to 17,772.2 trillion won (US$15.45 trillion) as of the end of last year, up 6.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the national balance sheet from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The rise marks a slight slowdown from a 6.7 percent on-year increase in 2019.

The sluggish growth apparently stems, at least in part, from a sharp drop in exports due to the pandemic.

South Korea’s economy contracted 1 percent on-year in 2020, marking its first contraction since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.’

Exports fell 5.4 percent on-year in 2020 as the pandemic hit the global economy. Outbound shipments came to US$512.8 billion last year, and imports moved down 7.2 percent on-year to $467.2 billion, according to the government data.

Still, with the value of its national assets growing at a faster rate than that of its economy, the country’s national assets came to be 9.2 times higher than its nominal gross domestic product last year, compared with 8.6 times in 2019.

The BOK partly attributed the rise to an increase in the value of non-productive assets, such as land and homes.

At the end of last year, the value of non-financial assets totaled 17,215.2 trillion won, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.

However, the value of net financial assets was worth 507.1 trillion won at the end of last year, down 15.4 percent from a year ago.